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very distant from each other. For that nothing but vice or folly obstructs the happiness of a married life, may be made evident hy examining,
First, the nature and end of marriage.
Secondly, the means by which that end is to be obtained.
First, the nature and end of marriage.
The vow of marriage, which the wisdom of most civilized nations has enjoined, and which the rules of the Christian church enjoin, may be properly considered as a vow of perpetual and indissoluble friendship; friendship, which no change of fortune, nor any alteration of external circumstances, can be allowed to interrupt or weaken. After the commencement of this state, there remain no longer any separate interests; the two individuals become united, and are, therefore, to enjoy the same felicity, and suffer the same misfortunes; to have the same friends, and the same enemies; the same success, and the same disappointments. - It is easy, by pursuing the parallel between friendship and marriage, to show how exact a conformity there is between them ; to prove that all the precepts laid down with respect to the contraction, and the maxims advanced with regard to the effects, of friendship, are true of marriage, in a more literal sense and a stricter acceptation.
It has long been observed, that friendship is to be confined to one; or that, to use the words of the axiom, “ He that hath friends, has no friend *. That ardour of kindness, that unbounded confi
η φιλοι ου φιλος.
dence, thạt unsuspecting security which friendship requires, cannot be extended beyond a single object. A divided affection may be termed benevolence, but can hardly rise to friendship; for the narrow limits of the human mind allow it not intensely to contemplate more than one idea. As we love one more, we must love another less; and, however impartially we may, for a very short time, distribute our regards, the balance of affection will quickly incline, perhaps, against our consent, to one side or the other. Besides, though we should love our friends equally, which is, perhaps, not possible ; and each according to their merit, which is very difficult; what shall secure them from jealousy of each other? Will not each think highly of his own value, and imagine himself rated below his worth? Or what shall preserve their common friend from the same jealousy with regard to them? As he divides his affection and esteem between them, he can, in return, claim no more than a dividend of theirs; and, as he regards them equally, they may justly rank some other in equality with him : and what, then, shall hinder an endless communication of confidence, which must certainly end in treachery at last ? Let these reflections be applied to marriage, and perhaps, polygamy may lose its vindicators.
It is remarked, that “ friendship amongst equals is the most lasting ;'* and, perhaps, there are few causes to which more unhappy marriages are to be ascribed, than a disproportion between the original condition of the two persons. Difference of con
Amicitia inter pares firmissima.
dition makes difference of education, and difference of education produces differences of habits, sentiments, and inclinations : thence arise contrary views and opposite schemes, of which the frequent, though not necessary consequences, are debates, disgust, alienation, and settled hatred.
Strict friendship " is to have the same desires and the same aversions." * Whoever is to choose a friend, is to consider, first, the resemblance or the dissimilitude of tempers. How necessary this caution is to be urged as preparatory to marriage, the misery of those who neglect it sufficiently evinces. To enumerate all the varieties of disposition, to which it may on this occasion be convenient to attend, would be a tedious task ; but it is, at least, proper to enforce one precept on this head, a precept which was never yet broken without fatal consequences, “ Let the religion of the man and woman be the same." The rancour and hatred, the rage and persecution, with which religious disputes have filled the world, need not to be related : every history can inform us, that no malice is so fierce, so cruel, and implacable, as that which is excited by religious discord. It is to no purpose that they stipulate for the free enjoyment of their own opinion; for how can he be happy, who sees the person most dear to him in a state of dangerous error, and ignorant of those sacred truths, which are necessary to the approbation of God and to future felicity? How can he engage not to endeavour to propagate truth, and promote the salvation of those he loves ? or, if he has been betrayed into such engagements by an ungoverned passion, how can he vindicate himself in the obser. vation of them ? The education of children will soon make it necessary to determine, which of the two opinions shall be transmitted to their posterity; and how can either consent to train up in error and delusion, those from whom they expect the highest satisfactions, and the only comforts of declining life?
* An observation of Catiline in Sallust.
On account of this conformity of notions, it is, that equality of condition is chiefly eligible; for, as friendship, so marriage, either finds or makes an equality. No disadvantage of birth or fortune ought to impede the exaltation of virtue and of wisdom ; for with marriage begins union, and union obliterates all distinctions. It may, indeed, become the person who received the benefit, to remember it, that gratitude may heighten affection ; but the person that conferred it ought to forget it, because, if it was deserved, it cannot be mentioned without injustice, nor, if undeserved, without imprudence : all reproaches of this kind, must be either retractions of a good action, or proclamations of our own weakness.
“Friends," says the proverbial observation,“ have every thing in common.” This is likewise implied in the marriage covenant. Matrimony admits of Do separate possessions, no incommunicable interests. This rule, like all others, has been often broken by low views and sordid stipulations ; but, like all other precepts founded on reason and in truth, it has received a new confirmation from almost every branch of it ; and those parents, whose age has had no better effects upon their understanding, than to fill them with avarice and stratagem, have brought misery and ruin upon their children, by the means which they weakly imagined conducive to their happiness.
There is yet another precept, equally relating to friendship and to marriage; a precept, which, in either case, can never be too strongly inculcated or too scrupulously observed : “Contract friendship only with the good.” Virtue is the first quality to be considered in the choice of a friend, and yet more in a fixed and irrevocable choice. This maxim surely requires no comment, nor any vindication; it is equally clear and certain, obvious to the superficial, and incontestable by the most accurate examiner: to dwell upon it, is, therefore, superfluous; for, though often neglected, it never was denied. Every man will, without hesitation, confess, that it is absurd to trust a known deceiver, or voluntarily to depend for quiet and for happiness upon insolence, cruelty, and oppression. Thus, marriage appears to differ from friendship, chiefly in the degree of its efficacy and the authority of its institution : it was appointed by God himself, as necessary to happiness, even in a state of innocence; and the relation produced by it was declared more powerful than that of birth : “ Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife.” But as, notwithstanding its conformity to human nature, it sometimes fails to produce the effects intended, it is necessary to inquire,
Secondly, by what means the end of marriage is to be attained.